Preparing for your next storm

December 14, 2007 — Leave a comment

Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman, 12/10/2007

Sometimes the playgrounds of life become places of danger and despair. This photo from Jim Beckel of The Oklahoman captured my attention — and really made me think.

The latest round of winter weather is having punishing effects on much of the nation. From the plains of the Midwest all the way to New England, it’s beginning to look a lot like. . . well, winter, at least.

I remember well the ice storm of 1994 that paralyzed much of the South. I was a student at Ole Miss at the time, and I recall the impact as if it were yesterday. The crashing of ice-laden trees in the woodlands behind my apartment sounded like a warzone of sorts. As a resident in the city of Oxford, I was without power for 11 straight days. That was a very bad thing for the thousands of college students who had to be in class two days after the storm arrived, thanks to the special electric crews from Nashville that got the campus up and running quickly.

My heart goes out to all those in the areas that have been so devestated by nature’s seemingly silent fury. It’s amazing how something that is so beautiful on many levels can also be so damaging — even deadly — on another.

Ice storms are unlike other types of severe weather, in that they can develop with very little notice. It takes just the right mix of humidity and cold air to create the perfect storm. Often there is a marked absence of loud precipitation, strong winds, or other normal indicators of severe weather. In fact, it is often during our sleep that a light rain can begin to freeze, coating trees, roads, and other surfaces with a dangerous layer of ice.

You know, there are lots of problems in life that develop in much the same way. Just as is the case with severe weather, we have to be alert to the signs of trouble on the horizon in other areas.

We have to pay attention to increasing tension in intimate relationships. This may come in the form of hostile or aggressive behavior, such as physical fighting or verbal abuse. . . or in the form of distancing behavior, such as the “silent treatment” or other patterns of avoidance.

We have to pay attention to changes in our bodies, in the case of physical problems, and seek medical attention, if needed. Just as we listen to weather forecasters for guidance in preparing for a storm, we must listen to our bodies, especially in the areas of sleep, appetite patterns, and pain.

We also must be aware of changes in our thought patterns or emotional responses. Being occasionally distracted or getting occasionally angry are things that might not necessarily get your attention. However, a marked increase in distractibility or angry feelings, especially if accompanied by verbal outbursts, are a cause for concern.

Knowing what is baseline, or normal, for you can be a real benefit — especially if professional help becomes necessary.

There are so many specific things of which we need to be mindful. Just as is the case with developing weather situations, early warning is a major key to an appropriate response.

If you “sleep” through the warning signs, you’ll likely awaken to a crisis situation.

One thing is certain: storms come for all of us, from time to time. Don’t be left out in the cold. Pay attention to changes in your own physical, social, and emotional neighborhood — and take any action before things get worse.

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